06 Apr 2018

Lessons Learnt from SIA's Travel Insurance Fiasco and What to Look Out For


Early this year, Singapore Airlines (SIA) was the subject of the Internet’s scorn. The problem? Customers realized that the new online booking system automatically sold them travel insurance, unless they opted out. Upon payment, getting a refund is reportedly a tedious process and has incurred the displeasure of several travellers.

While the backlash has simmered, the controversy does shed some light on the importance of being careful when buying travel insurance and raises some thought-provoking questions about giving travellers the power of choice and autonomy to decide on their preferred policy.

But for true peace of mind, the freedom to choose must be supported by a good understanding of your options and what they cover (or not). Before you decide whether to opt in or opt out of airline insurance, here are five crucial things MSIG TravelEasy covers that not all airline insurance policies do:

  1. Accommodation Issues

    It’s a no-brainer that airline insurance covers your flights but what about your hotel? While not every airline takes disrupted accommodation into account, TravelEasy gives you a range of $2,000 to $7,500 if you incur additional expenses for alternative accommodation when yours is no longer viable.
  2. Terrorism

    A serious issue that has grown increasingly rampant in recent times, it is more necessary than ever to stay prepared and ensure your travel insurance policy keeps this in mind. TravelEasy covers acts of terrorism outside of Singapore for a range of $50,000 to $1.2 million*.
  3. Missed Travel Connections

    You’d be surprised but not all airline insurance covers you for missed travel connections! If you’re in this situation and there is no flight available for more than six hours after, you can claim up to $1,000 with TravelEasy. Extra bonus: we cover you for overbooked flights too.
  4. Travel Agency Insolvency

    Have you seen Singapore Tourism’s Board recent series of videos promoting the need for travel insurance? It’s interesting that of all things, what they’ve singled out is the necessity of coverage for travel agency insolvency. Thankfully, TravelEasy’s got you covered there for a range of $5,000 to $20,000.
  5. Kidnap and Hostage Situations

    Hands up if you’ve watched Taken — the Hollywood thriller about a father’s hunt for his daughter who got kidnapped on a vacation should serve as a cautionary tale for real life. TravelEasy comes with coverage for kidnap and hostage scenarios, with no upgrades required.

    Find out more about TravelEasy here.

Whether it’s TravelEasy or any other travel insurance policy, do take a moment to read through the fine print and find out the following:

  1. Geographic Coverage

    Heading someplace off the beaten track? It’ll make for a great trip but in some cases, not necessarily a safe one. That’s why every travel insurance policy comes with a list of off-limit countries it does not extend coverage to. Common mentions on these lists are Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Even if you’re not heading there, it’s always a good idea to confirm that your destination is covered under your travel insurance.
  2. Exceptions for Claims

    If you’re in a hurry, you may have simply tried comparing the benefits of different travel insurance products and stopping there. That means reading things such as “Flight postponement coverage” or “Missing luggage coverage” and making your decision based on them.

    Slow down and read through the policy document for one simple reason: you can only make your claims successfully if the reason for the claim is covered in it. For example, if you lose your bags on a holiday, you may have thought how you fortunately still have insurance that covers this. You report your missing bags when you return to Singapore, only to realize your policy does not cover losses not reported within 24 hours.

    Certain policies also include exclusions for specific groups of people (e.g.: people aged 70 and above). Before you embark on your holiday, equip yourself with clear knowledge of which circumstances are covered and which are not. It will save you a great deal of heartache when you do need to make claims.
  3. Claims Process

    Benefits and claimable amounts are important but sometimes, it’s the claims process that makes or breaks your experience with an insurer. Before buying, find out the claims process to a) prepare yourself to know exactly what to do when the time calls for it and b) determine if it is a process you are comfortable with. Take note of the things such as the turnaround time (e.g.: how soon after the incident do you need to file your claim), what documents are required and how long the insurer generally takes to process the claim.

    Take it one step further and do some research to see what others There are numerous online reviews to help you get a more realistic picture — try not to base it on just one or two opinions but dig a little deeper to get a sense of the general consensus. Check a variety of sources — for example, instead of simply looking through Facebook Reviews, visit forums or blogs to get a clearer picture.

Not everyone has the same needs when it comes to travel insurance, so do your homework and pick wisely for a truly smooth-sailing holiday. 

*Terrorism cover excludes acts of terrorism using nuclear, biological or chemical substances or weapons.